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Cape Wrath Trail 60th birthday treat!

Cape Wrath Trail 60th birthday treat!


Postby oldsnail » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:30 pm

Route description: Cape Wrath Trail

Date walked: 10/05/2016

Time taken: 19

Distance: 320 km

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I like long distance walking, moving on each day, seeing the landscape gradually change. I had known about the CWT for several years but thought that it would be too hard for me. Having done the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast, albeit using B&Bs, and approaching my 60th birthday I decided to persuade H to help me do the CWT.
I was inspired by reading on this site a report from a Swede who walked with his young daughter and also a blog by Treksnappy which made me realise that if I want to expand I would have to get used to the sleeping bag!
H is a much better and experienced walker and climber than I am, so to try and even things out he carried 20kg to my 10. Even so he was way ahead of me. I tend to plod along and keep going. Most people are going faster than me.
I planned the route in advance, following mostly Ian Harper's book and had 10 nights camping and 8 in a bed. I had also worked out escape options and plans Bs but only ended up using one of them.
We took soup and freeze dried dinners ((of the two brands we took I preferred the Adventure Food which was less salty and rehydrated better), muesli with dried milk powder for breakfasts. Lunch was sandwiches from a hotel or oatcakes and cheese. There was one hotel that wouldn't do us sandwiches for two days on safety grounds.
We planned for rain but hoped for some sunny days.
The night before the trip we stayed in North Ballachullish so decided to get the Corran ferry across Loch Linnhe rather than the one from Fort William. The former is free for pedestrians, runs more frequently and there is less road walking once across the other side.
I have to say in advance that we were very lucky with the weather. The first five days were in sunshine. We had some days of rain but not in difficult terrain. We had no particular bog difficulties. H went up to his knee once but that was a lack of concentration. We took sandals for river crossings but never had to use them for that. With boots that didn't let in the water and gaiters we could go to above the ankles if need be.
So we were all ready to go.

DAY ONE. Corran Ferry to Callop Bridge. 29km. 18 miles.

Happy Birthday to me. No cake or birthday dinner for me but the sun was shining and no rain was forecast, what a gift for the first day.
The Corran ferry had a quick turn around at that time in the morning so we were on the other side by 8.30 and walking along the A road. I was surprised at the size of the lorries which could get on the ferry.
It was a nice road for an A road with a view of the loch. Then we turned into Cona Glen on a good but stony track. Stony is hard on the feet but the track made for easy walking. I suppose it is hunting which provides such a long track going deep into the Glen. We saw two slow worms and an adder, wow. Also every day on the CWT was primroses and cuckoos. It was a pretty glen with some lovely water cascades.
Finding drinking water was never a problem on the CWT.
At 11.45 we were at the building at Corrlarach. Not knowing how far we would get I had thought of camping near here as it is about half way to Glenfinnan but it was even too early for a lunch stop.
Eventually the track ends but it becomes a good path up and round to the top which we reached at 1.45pm. The descent was good but it would have been much worse and boggier in the rain. Before the track leading to the Callop "power station " there was a strange, large, sloping gate just waiting to hit someone on the head. I guessed to keep deer out. Then another stony path down to Callop Bridge. My sore feet didn't like this path.
We were wondering whether to go on to Glenfinnan when we saw a nice little place to camp by the bridge. It was lovely to put my sandals on and have a paddle in the river. I did put a chlorine tablet in my drinking water here.
I was concerned about the state of H's feet, he used alot of our Compeed stock. I had to remove one tick with my fork like tool and because it was my birthday I got the choice of freeze dried meal.
I was pleased to have got this far on day one as we were expected at Kinloch Hourn at the end of Day 4.

DAY 2. Callop Bridge to Upper Glendessary. 20.8km. 13 miles.

Of course I didn't sleep well and there was some forestry traffic on the little bridge early but it was another sunny day and we were packed up and away by 8.10a.m. walking on the forest track to Glenfinnan where we had planned to go to the station cafe to get some sandwiches for the next two days.. We hid our rucksacks in the rhododendrons by the car park and walked uphill to the station which seemed along way but the coffee, cake and two days sarnies made it all worthwhile.
Back at the car park we bumped into the estate manager who told us about yesterday's heather fire around Glen Pean. We set off at 10.00 and whilst walking under the viaduct spotted a Harry Potter fan and took a picture for her of her by the viaduct.
An easy, pretty walk along the river on a road to the Corryhully bothy which we stopped to have a look at. It has electricity! Then it was a good but stony track most of the way to the bealach at 471m. Saw alot of frogs and a lizard. It was windy so we stopped for lunch just before the top, glad that it was sunny with no rain. It took us about 2hr 30 from Glenfinnan and it took us another 2hr 30 to get to the bridge over the River Pean.
Fantastic scenery up there. The descent was a bit steep but it was OK because the ground was dry. However I think we crossed the river, Allt a Chaorainn, earlier than Ian Harper suggests and the going was a bit difficult.
After crossing the River Pean we did as Ian Harper suggests, that is turn left for a bit and then take a right onto a forest path which soon hits a good forestry track. We met two people who had turned right after the bridge walking on the outside of the forest. Bad decision, they were bogged down in bog.
We didn't turn off to the popular A Chuil bothy but carried on the forest track over a stream and turned left towards Glendessary. Another good track where we passed a sign advising the inexperienced not to carry on. We had to walk through some Highland cattle but they weren't bothered.
We were getting tired and H's feet were suffering so we found somewhere to camp in Upper Glendessary. Alot of deer around. Pleased that our tent stood up to the strong east wind.

DAY 3. Upper Glendessary, passed Sourlies to the ruin at approx. 883994. 16km. 10 miles.

Slept better. Up early, it was cold and there were some omninous clouds. Away by 7.30am. Looking now at the map the path goes up behind the house at Upper Glendessary and then west. We went through a gate and followed the path going towards the river. It didn't make much difference as the tree plantations make good reference points. We made our way to the north side of the plantation, it seemed along way to the end of the trees!
Getting to the high point and the lochans went well with the lochans now sparkling in the sun.
Coming down however, we thought we had crossed the river where suggested by Ian Harper but we ended up coming down by the river which was obviously wrong as we would be under water if in spate. We must have missed going higher earlier on. So we had to climb up the steep side out of the gorge and work our way round to the path which was much higher up.
It took us ages to get to Sourlies at 12.45. but what a lovely situation for a little bothy. It was hot and sunny so we sat inside eating our sarnies watching the oystercatchers.
It was between high and low tides so we walked along the beach as far as we could and then climbed up and over the end of the promontory.
Back at sealevel there was a path for a while and then we decided to follow the river which turned out well as it kept us out of the bogs except that H deviated from the plan and went up to a knee in bog. Back on track we found the bridge. You can't see it from a distance but you can see some long ruins on the other side and it is just before those.
There is a danger warning for the bridge so one person at a time. A minuscule Indiana Jones moment.
We were slowing up walking along the river as H's feet were causing to walk abnormally. Some lovely, inviting pools but we carried on to the ruin where there was a great spot by a stream for water and the river, sandy and wide with some pools for paddling and rinsing out some clothes.
Apart from the daily primroses, cuckoos and frogs I think I saw some eels in a little brook.

DAY 4. The ruin to KInloch Hourn. 18.3km 12 miles

We woke early and it was cold and cloudy. Away at 7.20. We followed the river and there was a vague path. It is quite obviously when you are at the end where the river turns. We saw a path going up on the left just before the end bowl and decided to try that one. Remember to go north which is slightly to the left and you are not going to the ridge line, the path you want to join is below that. We did lose the path but stayed north and hit it after 25 mins of ascent. When we were on the path we saw a large rock split in two with a tree growing out of it so maybe that could be something to aim for if it can be seen from below.
The path was good to the bealach and down to Barisdale which we reached at 10.45. We ate in the bothy and then followed the track along the coast.
We saw the steep right turn up the hill but for some aberration we did not take it and walked to the end instead and had to clamber up the hill to meet the path.
The weather improved in the afternoon.
As alot of people say this path to Kinloch Hourn is hard work. It took us over 4 hours of ups and downs on very stony paths. Eventually we got there at 3.45 and there was tea and cake! Fantastic. We stayed at the B&B which is a great place especially after three days camping. Hot shower ( although Tony was worried about his water supply as it had been dry for a while), comfy beds and fluffy towels.
After a bit of foot care I was worried that we only had one compeed left, H is still using loads and it is still along way to Ullapool.

DAY 5. Kinloch Hourn to Shiel Bridge. 18.1 km 12 miles.

I had a great sleep and a cooked breakfast to set me up for the day. I also put my new Smartwool socks on, so soft and lovely.
The weather was predicted cold and cloudy but it was sunny to start and only got cloudy later and it ended up warmish.
So we started off through the hamlet, it was a very scenic stop and up to the pylons. The right turn off this path is some way down after the high point and is more of a right fork than a turn. We followed this path to the river crossing which was no problem at all due to the lack of rain. There were some campers there. Then we went onwards following the path and not gaining much height until the path ran out next to the river. This was much nearer the river than Ian Harper suggests but it was not a problem as the ground wasn't wet. We worked our way away from the river and up. There wasn't a path but H seemed to have had it sussed. We crossed a river higher up and then it was a pull on rough ground to the bealach. 3hr 35min from the start.
We met two people who had stayed at the B&B and after some discussion of the route we turned north (left). We were lucky with the dry ground and good visibility. There was a tempting down into a valley but that was not the valley we were after. We climbed about 25m to a knoll following posts and we could see the rocks, the remains of an old wall which were a handrail to follow to Meallan Odhur.
I had a senior moment on the knoll. I couldn't find my glasses and went back down to the bealach where we had sat for a while. Not there. I was resigned to having lost them when H found them in the pocket of my rucksack where I keep my compass. H had kept my compass and I must have thought I was putting my compass away. Crazy.
Any way we carried on the the Meallan and onto the saddle to eat our sarnies.
There was no path to the river and Ian Harper says that it is unpleasant but as it was dry it was no problem getting down. The path along the river was too stony (my usual complaint).
It was along way to the river crossing but that was easily done and a long way on the other side brightened by seeing several mountain rescue dogs and trainers practicing their skills. If needed they would be a very welcome sight indeed.
We went into the petrol station shop and bought their last packet of compeeds. The owner commented that he had seen a lot more Cape Wrath walkers this year, apparently it had been publicized in Europe.
We were staying in the Kintail Lodge hotel at Shiel Bridge, very comfortable and my food parcel had arrived. The dinner was great, dived for scallops, turbot and chocolate brownie sundae, yummy.
We chatted to three men who had gone from Inverae to Sourlies in the heat and couldn't carry on except to struggle on to Strathan the next day and hitch a lift. What a shame after so much planning.
I was feeling pleased to have got to Shiel Bridge.

DAY 6 Shiel Bridge to Maol Bhuidhe bothy. 25km 15.5miles

The breakfast at Kintail Lodge was good and we were away by 8.10 and on the road to Morvich. Plus point, it was not raining. Walking along the road I could smell goat, looked up and saw some fine wild Kintail goats. We passed the caravan site and the activity centre and were soon moving up through the forest. Before the bealach we had to stop to put on our waterproofs, annoyingly they were on and off. It seemed along way to the Falls of Glomach which we reached at 12.40.
What I had read about the walk from the Falls had made me apprehensive and I had plans A, B and C but as it had stopped raining and there was no wind it was plan A.
The walk contouring the hillside was fine as the path was wide and flat enough. I hate those hillside paths that tilt towards the drop. There were a few rock steps to follow but with H's help, no problem.
However, after the burn I think we went a bit wrong. The path went up and we couldn't see a way so we went down again and climbed around a rock but after that we saw a path coming from above so maybe we should have gone higher, don't know.
We got to the bridge at 2.15 and had lunch. I felt that we weren't making very good time so made use of the well made track that goes to Iron Lodge passing lots of deer by the river.
We turned off before the lodge on the path to Maol Bhuidhe bothy and were there by 5.45, so quite along day.
We decided to sleep in the bothy as the weather wasn't that good. There is a place to put a tent at the end of the clump of trees..
I found the downstairs cold and damp even though there was a fire of sorts, one of the downstairs rooms had had the floor taken up. Upstairs however was a nice place to sleep, boarded with new Velux windows.
There were nine of us, some we had met before, so a good evening.

DAY 7. Maol Bhuidhe bothy to Strathcarron. 18.3km 11.5miles

Slept badly, it was cold and I had to zip my sleeping bag all the way to the top.
We left at 7.50, the river crossing was easy. We decided to go anti clockwise around the hill. From the river we went north to gain some height and found some tyre marks on the grass so followed them. It didn't seem to be THE path, sometimes we stuck to it, sometimes we left it as we thought we might be going too far east but eventually we got to a place to cross the river coming from Loch Cavalie, again easy because of the lack of rain.
There is a very good track along the north side of this Loch on which we saw a small estate vehicle with four wheels each side, just what you need for the terrain. We took this track all the way west to Bendronnaig bothy. It looked nice inside, although it would have been to far for yesterday as it took us nearly three hours to get there.
It rained on and off this morning but we got away without putting our waterproof trousers on.
After an early lunch break we carried on the estate track until we missed the right turn for Strathcarron. The estate track goes to Attadale. I think alot of people miss this turn. We tracked our way over to the path and were at the bealach by 12.30. There is an amazing old fence which goes on for as far as the eye can see.
From there it was a long descent to the first houses, onto the road and finally the Strathcarron Hotel by 2.45.
Another parcel was waiting for us, he had alot of parcels, and our room was ready.
We had a lazy afternoon washing and planning the next few days as the weather forecast was for wind and rain.
Later we ate in the bar with fellow travellers.

DAY 8. Strathcarron to Car Park on A896. 18km 11 miles.

Slept very well in Strathcarron and left at 8.20. It was a very nice start along the fishing river with marked places to fish. A bit on the road where we saw the first of the Tesco delivery vans. I don't know where they come from but we saw them periodically on the way north.
Then we turned left at the sign to Bealach Ban and Torridon.
There was a good path to the bothy. We put our noses inside and it looked nice. Then on to the Loch Coire Fionnaraich. It started to rain and we decided just to wear the waterproof jackets. From there the path climbs and contours to the bealach. But once there we were uncertain as to where to go. There was a path straight on and another to the right. We went straight on and went to the right of a little loch but there was no path or trace showing the descent. It took us 4hr 30 to get to the bealach.
So we made our way down through heather and around bog but it wasn't difficult.
We did eventually find the path which took us down to the Ling Hut. There was a place to camp at the back of the hut. The book said there were camping places on the A road so we carried on. 8 hours in total.
It started to rain heavily and so our trousers got wet but it was too late to do anything about it.
We could not see anywhere to camp where the path met the road. We went into the car park as it was a bit higher up and found a small place to camp to the left. As it was raining we were a bit desperate and put the tent up quickly. There were a few cars there which soon left leaving a camper van.
We were soon snug in the tent but H had to get out of the tent to get the Jet Boil going to make the tea, then soup, then dinner.

DAY 9. A896 to Kinlochewe. 10km 6miles.

There was more rain in the night and morning so we decided that we would walk along the road to Kinlochewe rather than stumble around the trackless back of Beinn Eigh in the cloud with overflowing river crossings.
Whilst we were packing up the tent, the occupants of a campervan parked in the car park came over to talk to us and offered us a lift to Kinlochewe. We turned them down explaining that we ought to at least walk to town as we had nothing else to do all day..
So we put on our waterproofs and set off at 9.00.
We passed the road to Coulin Lodge where you could decide to hit the road if coming over the Coulin Pass.
By 11.15 we were in front of the Whistle Stop cafe in Kinlochewe. What a lovely place especially coming out of the rain. There were a load of Scandinavian bikers inside, there must be some lovely routes for biking in the area.
We started off with venison sausage sandwiches (There were no fried green tomatoes, sadly) and coffee. I was really missing the coffee. Followed by a third breakfast of scone and coffee. There was a newspaper to read and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours in there.
When we left it had just about stopped raining and we went round to the hotel where we were obviously way to early but the bar was open and the owner showed us were their fantastic drying room was and went to ask the
staff to get our room reading. So we spread the tent out to dry and left our boots and waterproofs in there.
The hotel also has a big welcoming lounge with alot of interesting books.
Some enough we were in our room, having a bath, doing some washing and lazing around.
The dinner was good too, scallops, rib eye steak and a bottle of rioja!

DAY 10. Kinlochewe to east end of Strath na Sealga. 23.4km 15 miles.

After a good sleep and breakfast we set off at 8.40. It was overcast but not yet raining. We soon left the main road, went passed the school and started on the track to the Heights of Kinlochewe. It was a very good track, there was a lot of earth working and large vehicles for what we didn't know.
We passed a new looking house with a fine large picture window. Just after the house we turned left off the track through a gate to follow a good path to Loch Fada. That took us 3 hours.
It started to rain so waterproofs on. We decided not to follow Ian Harper here but to take the advice of a few blogs and to head for Loch Meallan an Fhudair. This was not easy for us to find with a map and compass but with good visibility and a GPS it was not too bad. From there we worked out which was Bealach na Croise and tried to contour round to it. There were bogs and peat hags that we had to avoid but we did meet the river at a good place to cross on flat rock.
We got to the Bealach at 1.00 ( 4hr 20 of walking). We did wonder whether the other way would have been better but who knows.
We had our sarnies there but it was very windy blowing up the bealach. Anyway there was a path down from the bealach so we started off and very soon a very slow four propellor plane flew very low over us. We could see a loch in the distance but soon realised it couldn't be Loch an Nid and it was too far and in the wrong direction. Loch an Nid being more to the left.
We crossed over the river to get to the right of the loch with the rain and strong winds now blowing strongly behind us.
It was a bit miserable but the mountain slopes to the left were impressive steep rock slabs which the rain would just run off and fill the rivers. We had a quick stop by a ruin and carried on down the path to the east end of the Strath where we had decided to camp by some other ruins close to the track that would take us to Corrie Hallie the next day. We didn't want to do the extra kms in the rain to get to Shenaval bothy. We camped at 4.15pm, so about 7.5 hours of walking which I felt for me was good considering the distance. It was a good place to camp and we could see that others had camped there before.

DAY 11 Strath na Sealga to Inverlael. (Then hitched a lift to Ullapool). 18km 11 miles.

I didn't sleep very well and woke up early. It had been raining alot in the night so it was a wet breakfast and we packed up a wet tent. On the plus side we were off at 7.20 and we were right next to the track. The first part of the day was great, going up a good track with views down to the loch. When we started the descent the weather improved and it was very pretty going down through the woods to Corrie Hallie.
We turned left onto the road and soon turned right onto a yellow road and over the Dundonnell river. From there it was difficult to find the path up through the woods and then I think we crossed the little river too low as the path on the other side was more like a sheep path and after a while we realised that we were too close to the Dundonnell river when we should have been moving away from it. After all that it seemed a long way to the Lochs. After the Lochs the path was clear but we either lost it or lost faith in it.
H's right quad was bad for some reason and he couldn't walk downhill, he had to do the steep bits going backwards, not easy.
It was looking steep so we had a sit down and a good look at the map and realised we needed to head for the trees just south of Croftown. Going down the side of the trees was steep and muddy and very slippy. When we got to the bottom there was a sign saying this was a coffin trail. How could you carry a coffin down that slippery path, never mind from Corrie Hallie?
It was a nice sheltered spot at the bottom and we walked through a sheep field to a lane and onto the main road arriving at 2.15. I had promised H that we would hitch a lift to Ullapool as 7 miles of road walking was not a pleasant prospect. Luckily before we got to Inverlael a car stopped and we got a lift from a couple going to Ullapool Tesco's on their way to Cape Wrath to do a marathon.
The Argyll Hotel that I had booked was easily found, again we were early and had to wait for our room but there was a bar we could sit in. We had a very nice, spacious room on the second floor overlooking the harbour.
We got all our wet stuff out to dry and didn't have to do any washing as tomorrow was our day off and there was a laundry in Ullapool.
Today took us 7 hours to do 11 miles which wasn't very good.
We ate Langoustines and Hake at the Ferry Boat Inn. Yum.

DAY 12 Day off in Ullapool.

Today we went to the Laundry place and had to have a service wash as their customer dryer wasn't working. Did some shopping in Tesco's and went to the outdoor shop where we bought loads of different sizes of Compeeds. It rained on and off and we weren't bothered! There was a very nice deli and cafe on Argyll Street, The West Coast Deli and we went there twice.

Day 13 Ullapool to Oykel Bridge 34km 20 miles

This was going to be a long way for us even though we were taking the easier option rather than going from Inverlael through Glen Douchary.
We made our own breakfast in the hotel and left at 7.00. We had the streets of Ullapool to ourselves. We went north and then turned right to follow the road around the quarry. A very good track took us around Loch Achall and then along the Rhidorroch river where we saw a lot of deer. This good track lasted to East Rhiddorroch Lodge. It then got a bit rougher and went uphill but it was still a track.
I was beginning to think that we would never get to Loch an Daimh but eventually we did and that is where the path from Inverlael joins.
At the end of the loch is the Knockdamph bothy where we stopped for lunch at 12.00.
After this the hard tracks were starting to hurt my feet but we had to carry on, after all this was really an easy day with good paths and no real hills.
Crossing the river presented no problems and on the way to the Schoolhouse bothy at Duag Bridge we met 10 mountain bikers. I think this area is popular with them. We stopped again at this bothy, imagining what life was like for the children and their teacher who presumably lived there. These young children having to get to school in all weathers and river conditions.
From there a good track took us to Oykel Bridge for 3.45. I was very tired and my feet had had enough.
We stayed at the Oykel Bridge hotel which is pricey but includes dinner, bed, breakfast and packed lunch.
They were very welcoming and we had a lovely big room with a bath. I found another tick today.
This hotel is popular with fishing people of which there were six staying. At breakfast the men were wearing plus fours and fancy knee socks with tassels. What a fashion statement.
We meet up with a couple of fellow CWTers who arrived around 6.00. We had been very lucky because in their last two hours they had been absolutely soaked.
The dinner was a buffet style and there was a fantastic joint of beef being carved.
At breakfast they lay out food for packed lunches so you can just help yourself.
It was a very nice and luxurious place to stay which set me up for the next two days.

DAY 14 Oykel Bridge to where the Allt Sail an Ruathair meet the Oykel river. 16.5 km 10 miles.

The other CWTers were going all the way to Inchnadamph but I felt that was too far for me so after reading some blogs had decided to camp at this river junction.
We left at 9.15, there was no rush today. I was sunnier and warmer than it had been for the past few days. It was a very easy day but my legs still felt tired from yesterday. We crossed the old Oykel Bridge and walked on a good 4x4 track not by the river but it had a good view of it. You could see the fishing areas marked out and a few people fishing.
There were still primroses and cuckoos and this was a truly beautiful river. I looked hard but did not see any salmon jumping. Although we were pleased that it was dry and sunny, the people who rely on the fishing were praying for rain. There was not enough water in the river to encourage the salmon to go upstream.
We got to Salachy before I remembered that I wanted to turn right at a river junction to join the higher 4x4 track.
You can't see the building from the path but we saw the wall mentioned in the book. The landscape it not the same as the map now as many of the trees have been felled. I went to find the building which was dark being surrounded by trees and a little spooky. I couldn't see a path heading up hill so we went to the Salachy side of the little river and started to climb up by the tree line and quite soon we came out into the open as the trees had been recently felled.
We met a few midges there and had to clamber over tree stumps to get to the 4x4 track. This was a track good enough for cars as we passed one. The track took us to Loch Ailsh were we stopped to eat. Then round to some buildings, people and Benmore Lodge. From there it wasn't far to our camp spot by the rivers. It was still sunny but starting to get a bit cold, about 5.00 a large bank of cloud was amassing to the east. Today would have been a good day to go over to Inchnadamph so I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

DAY 15 Where the Allt Sail an Ruathair meet the Oykel river to Inchnadamph. 14km 9 miles.

Today, it was upwards to the bealach but it was the descent to Inchnadamph that I was not looking forward to. I had read several blogs, some reported on how difficult it was and some went from the bealach to Inchnadamph with no comments.
Anyway there was no rain in the night and we packed away a dry tent which is always a good start. We set off at 7.00 and followed the track and then a path for along way. It took us to the crossing of the stream from Dubh Loch Beag which was done easily on a flat bed of rock.
From there we went too high. Ian Harper suggests the 320m contour. We managed to cross the stream coming from Dubh Loch Mor and then tried to contour NW. We didn't do too badly although there were obstacles like cliffs and peat hags to avoid.
3hrs 15 mins to the bealach.
We had our lunch on the bealach .
Following Ian Harper we looked for a path going up and it was easy to spot. This path soon ran out and we seemed to be at an edge that we walked round. There was a short steep bit of down where you had to use your hands. The scree sections were OK as there were paths across.
We reached the flat bit and went up to a little ridge for a better view of where to cross the river Traligill. We could see the path coming down from Conival. We went down to the river and crossed near enough where suggested by Ian Harper.
This river would have been difficult with more water in it. We were lucky as it hadn't rained for nearly two days.
As we walked further down the path towards Inchnadamph and looked back it did seem that you could walk higher up on the west side of the river and come down to cross the bridge.
We met two groups going to Conival which I thought was a bit late in the day to start but the weather was good.
From along way we could see a big white house which we were told was a new build for the landowner but had not yet been occupied.
Further along we passed Glenbain, a lovely holiday cottage to let, then reached the main road where we turned left to get to the Inchnadamph Hotel at 1.15. Another food parcel was waiting for us.
We were very early but we sat in the lounge until our room was ready, a nice, big room with a bath and good views.
I had read that this area is popular with geologists and so not surprisingly there was a group of 10 of them staying there.

DAY 16. Inchnadamph to Glendhu bothy. 19km. 12 miles

We had to leave the warmth and security of the hotel and set off for two nights without a bed!
We set off at 9.00 and retraced our steps to rejoin the route.
There was a good path to Loch Fleodach Coire, it was sunny but windy. After the loch the path was not so good but we did find one and it took us to the left of the boulder field and onto the bealach. Magnificent views from there.
We were at the bealach by 12.00 which I thought was good progress.
On the right there was a good path going down. Later on we needed to do some navigation until we came to the burn which took us down to the river.
We crossed the river OK and turned left to go to Loch Beag. There was no path and the way was hard going. There was old fence wire trying to trip you up, ups and downs and boggy bits to avoid.
I turned my ankle before the loch but could still carry on if my foot was planted straight.
Going around Loch Beag seemed to take ages. A small pleasure boat came near us but I resisted the temptation to ask for a lift.
Eventually we reached Glencoul bothy at 3.35 where there is an imposing war memorial. A reminder that people used to live in these remote places.
As it was still early we decided to go on to Glendhu.
The ascent to the promontory was steep but on a good 4x4 track but the descent was something else, rocky and boggy. Finally we got to the bridge and a good track took us to Glendhu bothy by 6.00.
This bothy was probably nicer than the one at Glencoul. Later on a Kiwi woman arrived but that was all. The upstairs has two good rooms for sleeping. I spent a lovely evening sitting on the bench outside watching the loch.

DAY 17. Glendhu bothy to Lockstack Lodge. 19km. 12 miles.

I didn't sleep well and we left at 7.00 but it was a sunny day again, hurrah!
The first 3kms were on a good track alongside Loch Glendhu with a great view of the loch, mountains and small settlements over on the other side and the bridge at Kylesku. I could walk OK if my foot went straight down not I was not happy if it twisted.
We turned right away from the loch and ascended on another good track up to the shieling marked on the map. On the way I met another geologist, a Ph.D. student on a bike who was off up Ben Strome to take some samples. He explained to me how I was walking along a fault and that the rocks on the left were so much older than those on the right.
At the shieling we left the good track and climbed up to Ben Dreavie, a path all the way. The top has rock that looks man made but obviously isn't. Small stones set in rock. We were lucky that there was good visibility and could see islands and coast line for along way.
From here there is not a path and we took a compass bearing but we drifted too far left. It was hard work with boggy ups and downs and peat hags to get back to the route which went passed Feur lochan and onto an east west path. We turned left onto this path and after a while, turned right off it to follow a path that goes round the west of Ben Stack to join the A838.
I had read that it was possible to camp around Loch Stack so we crossed the bridge which goes to Lochstack Lodge, an imposing and well maintained collection of buildings.
We turned right onto the track and soon found a place by the loch and a jetty. Although I did not see any other suitable places. I found a tick on my arm that I couldn't get out.

DAY 18. Lochstack Lodge to Rhiconich.

It was windy in the night and H went out to check the tent but it was OK. Another day with sun and no rain, fantastic. We left at 7.20. The first part was on a good track around the beautiful mountain of Arkle (the racehorse was named after it). The mountains in this area are strikingly white. I was impressed with H finding the correct place to leave this track and strike off left into the unknown. We found the little lochan and then Loch a Garbh-bhaid Mor.
We decided that we would follow the loch rather than go higher.
There was a thin path along the east side of the loch, it was hard work, ups and downs and holes in the path but with patience we got to the end after which the going was much easier.
The crossing of the Garbh Allt went alright. We crossed where it joins the main river as it was wider and shallower there, just got away with dry feet. It is amazing how long water can be above boot level with gaiters on and not get into your boots.
We stopped a few times for breaks as we were very early. The boathouse that has been moved several metres by the wind was a sight worth seeing.
We got to the Rhiconich Hotel at 11.30. I know much too early and there was a sign outside saying that check-in did not start until 3.00. It was a warm, sunny day so we were not too put out but if it had been raining that would have been a different matter. The Kiwi from Glendhu came along after a while and passed the time before going onto Kinlochberve. She had booked a B&B there and told us of an Indian restaurant she was hoping to go too.
At 3.00 we went to reception where a friendly woman asked us why we didn't try getting in earlier. Another parcel was waiting for us and we were shown to our room no. 1 by reception, a nice big room with refurbished bathroom and great views of the loch. The battered haddock from Kinlochbervie that I had for dinner was delicious.

DAY 19. Rhiconich to Strathchailleach bothy. 22kms. 14 miles.

We left the hotel at 9.00 and it was another warm, sunny day. We decided that we would go the road way because we wanted to see the Loch and the small settlements that we would pass on the way. We were soon at Badcall where we had to go into the London Stores, you have to see it for yourselves. We bought some fruit bread, boursin and nectarines and carried on our way. Next up was Kinlochbervie which has a High School and a post office which was open on a Saturday morning. As we saw the hotel I couldn't resist going in for coffee. There was a Tesco delivery van in the car park for where people came to collect their orders. I was impressed in such a remote place and wondered how far it had come.
There are quite a few houses strung out on the road to Blairmore where we turned right onto a track to Sandwood Bay. We passed a party of volunteers improving the path. Thank you. and then we could see Sandwood Bay below us. That was 4hrs 30 from the start. We had our lunch by the sea at high tide. There were quite a few people enjoying the beach.
After a while we decided to get to the bothy which took us another hour.
We walked along the beach and crossed the stream which comparing it to the map seems to have changed its course. We took the first path up from the beach and trended east. We found two cairns and followed the path whether it was human or an animal path I don't know but it got us to the Lochan na Sac.
From there we found a path to a barbed wire fence which had some plastic on the top to help you cross and then we found the way to the bothy. Not too difficult.
As it was hot we decided to camp by the side of the bothy at 3.15. We debated whether to go further but thought we might not find anywhere to camp and then the next day we would be at the Cape too early.
Only one other person came to stay at the bothy that night.

DAY 20. Strathchailleach bothy to Cape Wrath. 10km 6 miles.

Our last day. I never thought that I would have got so far.
I was worried about what would happen when we got to Cape Wrath as we knew that an eight day ultra Cape Wrath Trail race was due to finish this morning. How would we all get off when the minibus is a 2 hour round trip to the ferry? So I did not sleep well andat 3.00 I could see the beginning of dawn in the east. We were up at 5.15 and away at 6.30.
We crossed the river by the bothy, no problem and went 300m east before turning north to go around the first hill.
After all these days of good weather it was beginning to rain and the mist was catching us up behind but luckily we could always see where we were going.
It was quite hard work with tussocks, peat hags but it was not too boggy.
We got to the Keisaig river at the correct place and then onto the MOD fence. Why put barbed wire on the top? With a bit of a struggle I got over it. We saw deer on the ridge we were aiming for and from there we could the loch about 2 km away. From there we took a direct line to a sentry box we could see on the road and after another 2km we were at the lighthouse by 9.45. It looked deserted and with the mist we could hardly see the lighthouse.
The door to the cafe was slightly open and we pushed it to see our Kiwi who had spent the night there.
John who lives there and runs the cafe made us tea and sandwiches and we sat down to wait.
The race marshalls had not yet arrived, they had to come by ferry and minibus.
The first runners approached the lighthouse not knowing where to go so we went outside to point them in the right direction into the cafe.
Eventually the minibus arrived and more runners. For me who had taken 19 days to do this, theirs was an achievement out of this world. I believe the winner ran to the ferry rather than take the bus.
The organisers were very kind to us and let us on the first bus to the ferry along with the first 13 runners. It took an hour to the ferry and from there the ferry is very quick.
The weather had improved alot when we reached Durness. We found a cafe for lunch and then our B&B, the Wild Orchid where I had a little sleep.
The next day we got the 8.00 bus to Lairg, train to Inverness and bus back to Fort William.
oldsnail
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 60th birthday treat!

Postby herecomethegirls » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:32 pm

Enjoyed your report on CWT, made us smile - my wife and I are planning to walk it - would love to hear how the walk was from H's perspective, especially in terms of how he found the navigation?
herecomethegirls
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 60th birthday treat!

Postby oldsnail » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:02 pm

herecomethegirls wrote:Enjoyed your report on CWT, made us smile - my wife and I are planning to walk it - would love to hear how the walk was from H's perspective, especially in terms of how he found the navigation?


Thanks for reading my report.
H is a very experienced mountain walker and did not find it at all difficult except for the school boy error of not attending to his feet at the first sign of rubbing.
As to navigation, he likes to have the map with him at all times and know where he is.
I spent a lot of time in advance studying the maps, reading Ian Harper's book and reading lots of blogs so we knew where the tricky points could be.
We were so lucky with the weather. There would have been some tricky navigational places if we could not see and also being hit by bad weather. Mostly the bealachs, the one before Shiel Bridge, the one after Loch Fada. I also made some alternative plans for bad weather.
If you do the trail I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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